The Leamington Fire Services and Leamington Business Improvement Association are setting out to prove that there is in fact safety in numbers.
The two groups are joining forces to ensure that emergency situations in the uptown Leamington area can be responded to at the right place and the right time by applying new address numbers to building fronts. The need for highly visible, uniform and accurate numbering in the uptown core became apparent roughly two years ago when an apartment fire broke out on the second floor and at the back of the structure occupied by Leamington Source For Sports.
The initial call sent to Leamington Fire Services indicated that the fire was taking place at “the sports bar” located at 19 Erie Street North. Mike Ciacelli, deputy chief of the LFS, explained that the information provided triggered significant confusion, as the actual location was the sporting goods store at 9 Erie Street North.
“At one point, we thought the caller must have been talking about Bedrock’s (Bar and Grill), which is at 29 Erie Street South,” he noted. “We went there, but there was no fire. We did find the fire, but we could have been there sooner. That’s what instigated the idea for new address numbers — it would be nice to have some consistency.”
Ciacelli noted that presently, some businesses in the target area apply address numbers to the front of mailboxes — which are often difficult to see from the road — while others affix them to doors or windows as stickers of different sizes and colours or brass versions purchased at hardware stores. The incident at Source For Sports prompted Ciacelli to approach the Leamington BIA with the idea of applying address decals of the same size, shape and colour to the same locations of each uptown business. About a year-and-a-half ago, the Source For Sports building became the first to receive such a numeral to see if it would withstand the extremities of weather conditions and temperatures known to the area.
The new digits, like the one already revealed at Source For Sports, are about four inches in height and are highly reflective. Like the test subject, following numbers will be placed on either the glass of each business’s main door or glass panel/window above the door.
“We’ll be able to see them really well off the glass with our floodlights,” Ciacelli explained. “We directed a light at the number at the sports shop and it lit up like fireworks.”
Ciacelli explained that while he served as LFS fire inspector in 2008, an estimated 50 per cent of businesses in the target area didn’t have visible address numbers posted on their buildings. Looking further into the issue, he discovered that there are no bylaws in place requiring those numbers to be within plain view.
Since the idea came up, Ciaceilli and assistants in a co-op program at the pre-service fire program at St. Clair College have been researching the sum of each numeral that will be needed to apply to the approximately 220 Leamington BIA businesses as well as the total cost of the project. The initiative has also included consultation with the Post Office to ensure that each location’s address is correct.
“We want something to mimic the green and white 911 address signs being used in rural areas,” Ciacelli explained. “That project turned out to be a great success. In emergencies, it’s important for there to be consistency and visibility.”
Ciacelli noted that when complete, the new address numbers — being provided by Elite Media Works — should also prove useful to police and EMS personnel. He hopes to see the application stage of the program start within the next one to two weeks. The start time will depend largely on when the strike at St. Clair College is resolved.
The digits will first be applied to businesses on Erie and Talbot Streets and then proceed block by block to buildings along side streets as far north as Clark Street, east as Victoria Street, south as Russell Street and west as Albert and Fox Streets.
Business owners from within the affected area have met to discuss the project and are pleased to see it taking place.
“It’ll give the opportunity for 911 calls to provide correct address information, which will save time and provide better protection,” explained Gerard Rood of Rood Engineering Inc. of Nelson Street. “I’m very happy about the project. It’s going to make it a better, safer area for everyone in the uptown community.”